This article originally appeared in the fall 2015 Harker Quarterly.
In July, 20 middle school Spanish language students embarked on their biennial two-week immersion trip to Costa Rica, absorbing the country’s rich culture and natural beauty while bolstering their Spanish language skills.
On their trip to La Carpio, a neighborhood made up primarily of Nicaraguan immigrants, the students assisted the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation with painting a house. Other students played with the local children. “It was touching to see how naturally our group used their Spanish to communicate with the children and how sad all of them were to say goodbye,” said middle school Spanish teacher Julie Pinzás, who accompanied the students on the trip.
On another day, the group spent the day learning some staple Latin dance moves. “Our instructor, Jason, taught us how to do the Bachata, Merengue and some fun ways to turn your partner,” Pinzás wrote. “He was impressed on how enthusiastic our students were and their level of understanding.” The next day, they returned to La Carpio, where one group of students helped set up a pop-up library and another visited a preschool, where they helped the children prepare for entry into Costa Rican schools.
The group traveled to the town of Sarchí on Wednesday, known for the Pan-American Highway that connects Central and South America. “Sarchí is also renowned for its colorfully painted oxcart wheels and beautifully hand-carved wood furniture and crafts,” said Pinzás. The students spent the day painting their own wheels, learning the basics under the tutelage of a local artist.